What is the objective of our lives?
The Apostle Paul would tell us Christians it is to gradually be conformed into the image of Christ.
My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you… (Galatians 4:19).
There are three key ingredients necessary to produce Christ-like maturity: the Spirit, the Scriptures, and time.
It is important, first and foremost, for a person to be changed into the image of Christ by the Holy Spirit. This is a gradual transformation that takes place on the inside of a person, in their heart.
1. The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit indwells only those individuals who have, by God’s grace and personal choice, trusted in the atoning work of Christ, Who died on the cross as a substitute to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:3). We must depend on God’s Spirit to help us become the kind of person the Bible requires of us. We depend on the Spirit when we obey His voice as He convicts of sin and calls us to ask for forgiveness and walk in the light (1 John 1:5-6).
2. The Scriptures
The second maturity-producing ingredient is the Bible. The Spirit works through the Word to bring conviction and, ultimately, regeneration (1 Peter 1:23), and they provide all that is needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
God does not ask us to do anything without giving us the resources to accomplish the task It is as Paul says, “in order to make the man from God adequate, and to equip him fully for every good task” (2 Timothy 3:17). When the Bible speaks of the Scriptures being profitable, it means that they are useful.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV)
As our minds are renewed with the truth, we are more and more able to capture our negative and sinful thinking and have a life of peace (Joshua 1:8; Philippians 4:8).
The third ingredient required to produce Christian maturity is time. There is no such thing as instant maturity. There is no pill we can swallow, no school we can go to, no fairy dust to sprinkle on our heads to transform our rebellious hearts into obedient ones. Maturity is going to take time.
An amazing number of Christians believe they can grow in grace apart from regular and continuous time in the Word. It doesn’t much matter how much time we spend in prayer or fasting, in fellowship with other Christians, in ministering or witnessing to others — if we are not spending time in God’s Word and if God’s Word does not richly dwell in us, we are, for all intents and purposes, handcuffing the Holy Spirit.
If we want to be saved, sanctified, and Spirit-filled we must invest the time to train ourselves with the Scriptures. The fruit of the Spirit does not grow overnight but rather develops gradually as it is nourished with the Word of God.